The occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) requires employees maintain 3-point contact (two hands and a foot, or two feet and a hand) when climbing or descending a ladder.

While maintaining three points of contact is important, maintaining three points of control is critical. Three points of control involves a worker using three of their four limbs for reliable, stable support while climbing a ladder. A worker climbing a ladder with a tool in their hand can maintain contact with the ladder but not a firm grip (control) on the ladder rung. Make sure to practice three-point control. It provides for a greater level of safety when climbing ladders.

Also remember to:

  • Inspect the ladder prior to use.
  • Face the ladder while ascending and descending.
  • Hoist tools rather than carrying them.
  • Keep the belt buckle between the rails of the ladder.
  • Install a barricade, use caution tape, or traffic cones to keep traffic away from the ladder.
  • Have a coworker foot the ladder to prevent ladder “kick-out.”

Source: Joe Mlynek is president of Progressive Safety Services LLC, Gates Mills, OH:, and content creation expert for Safety Made Simple Inc., Olathe, KS;